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Hypnagone – Qu'il Passe Award winner

Qu'il Passe
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 10 October 2022, 9:12 AM

HYPNAGONE is a Progressive Metal band from France. Without much more to go on, I was able to find the line-up, but that’s about it. The new album contains eleven songs, and “Arrival” is the first. It’s a short mood-setter, consisting mostly of textured keyboards that rise and fall like ocean waves…smooth and easy. The first proper track is called “Shibboleth;” a nine-minute opus. The opening tones are tranquil, with thumping bass guitar and heavy rhythms underneath, and the melodies are both catchy and sophisticated at the same time. This is complicated material but it remains quite accessible to the listener also.

“Spannunsbogen” begins with an all-out, muscle flexing of instrumental prowess with deep, harsh vocals and a darker sound. Once again, the bassist is very animated. Some trippy elements mix in here as well, and the transitions in and out of harsh and clean passages is pristine and expert level shifting. “The Step Inward” is a more introspective song with very pretty vocal melodies in the beginning, transitioning at their peak to a heavier and more aggressive sound with harsh vocals. The middle section is back to the peaceful and smooth footsteps, like a person strolling in the park without a care in the world. “Moss” is another easy-listening song with some melancholy tones. The lyrics suggest a person at a crossroads and unsure whether or not he is on the right path…what is destiny, anyway? It’s a beautifully thoughtful song.

“L’arbre” is a strong combination of graceful elements with bright displays of musicianship. The meter shifts are subtle and handled with experience and deftness. Approaching the half-way mark, there is an easy-on-the-ears guitar solo, followed by harder accents until the dreamy ending. “White Fields” is another lengthy outing. It drips with heavy and emotionally laden elements like the crying saxophone notes, and is marked by passages of anger as well. The anger swells to rage around the half-way point, and subsides a bit, replaced by softer tones of questioning. When one questions, there is always anxiety, and that is how the song ends. “Elegy” is “a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead.” Tense tones combine with spoken words that are hard to understand, and you get the sense that the album is about to go on a sharp turn.

“Dross” is more abstract, chaotic and eccentric. The rhythms they build are dense and accurate, hitting the accents with deadly aim. The meter and sound changes several times through the short song, begging the listener to try to keep up. Both the bass and the lead guitar work is nearly impeccable. “The Mind Derailed” is another beastly offering, at just under nine-minutes. At first, harsh vocals combine with dissonant guitar work, which drops at the chorus in favor of clean vocal harmonies. The middle section fills a back and forth pattern that follows the song title. A derailed mind could very easily lead to the spastic outbursts followed by calmer waters and that is what we get in this song. “Light Bulb” closes the album. It’s a sad sort of closer, with a few clean guitar notes, and somber qualities.

Admittedly, there was a lot going on in this album. Even hardened and experience Progressive Metal fans can find the material difficult to digest and dissect. The band is clearly capable of letting loose and just going on a bender of mind-boggling displays of performance on their instruments, but instead they let the story and melodies develop as any great band would. The hardened passages are very demanding, and they are outstanding musicians indeed. The more melodic passages are very charming as well. I wish there was a little more of these on the album, but it’s a fantastic winner nonetheless, especially considering this is an independent release. Will someone please sign this band now?

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Arrival
2. Shibboleth
3. Spannungsbogen
4. The Step Inward
5. Moss
6. L'arbre
7. White Fields
8. Elegy
9. Dross
10. The Mind Derailed
11. Light Bulb
Antoine Duffour – Bass
Yann Roy – Guitars
Jérôme “Jackou” Binder – Drums
Adrien Duffour – Vocals
Romain Lambrey – Keyboards and Samples
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 01 February 2023

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